After being beaten so much by the President of the Republic, the Brazilian Judiciary seems to have realized an obviousness: those who live in the hope of obtaining a moderate Bolsonaro die very thin or are part of the centrão, a group that feeds on the captain’s immoderateness. On September 7, Bolsonaro crossed the border of paroxysm. Compelled by circumstances to defend the institution he directs, Luís Roberto Barroso, president of the TSE, raised the bar, suggesting that the Electoral Court started to operate with Bolsonaro in an irreversible way.
“The slogan for the Brazilian moment, contrary to what has been advertised, seems to be: ‘You will know the lie and the lie will imprison you,'” declared Barroso. Fed up with opposing Bolsonaro’s “untrue” and “lying” insinuations about the electoral system, the minister went to the point: “It is already starting to get tiring in Brazil having to repeatedly deny falsehoods so that we are not dominated by the post-truth, by the alternative facts, so that the repetition of the lie does not create the impression that it has become the truth.”
Bolsonaro enticed the devotees who went to Avenida Paulista to worship him on Independence Day with renewed rhetoric. Referring to the 2022 succession, he said: “I cannot participate in a farce like this sponsored by the president of the Superior Electoral Court.”
Barroso insinuated that Bolsonaro confuses amnesia with a clear conscience when reiterating the charge that electronic voting machines are unreliable. The minister recalled that, “after a live that should appear in any future anthology of bizarre events”, Bolsonaro “was summoned by the TSE to fulfill the legal duty to present the evidence, if he had it.”
“It didn’t,” Barroso recalled. “It’s all empty rhetoric. Nowadays, except for the fanatics —who are blinded by radicalism— and the mercenaries —who are blinded by the monetization of the lie—, all the good people know that there was no fraud and who is the faker in this story .”
The live that Barroso calls a bizarre event served as the raw material for two measures. In one, in a unanimous decision of its seven ministers, the TSE opened administrative investigation against Bolsonaro for lying about the ballot boxes and threatening the electoral process. In another, it sent to the Supreme News-Crime requesting the inclusion of the president in the list of investigated in the investigation on fake news. The case’s rapporteur, Alexandre de Moraes, now called a “scoundrel” by Bolsonaro, accepted in the Supreme Court the request he had helped to approve as a member of the TSE.
As Barroso said, “Democracy has a place for conservatives, liberals and progressives.” What unifies the different “is respect for the Constitution”. Hence the conclusion with the air of a verdict: “Democracy only has no place for those who intend to destroy it.”
Bolsonaro has already questioned the 2022 electoral calendar. Barroso was adamant: “With God’s blessing — God’s real good, with the love of respect for others — with God’s blessing and the protection of institutions, a democratically elected president by popular vote will take office on January 1, 2023.”
Every Brazilian will be relieved of making sense if the investigation opened by the TSE against Bolsonaro does not result in the ineligibility of a candidate for reelection who, sniffing defeat, disqualifies the ballot boxes. “The system is certainly insecure for those who think the only possible outcome is victory itself,” declared Barroso, before reiterating: “For bad losers there is no remedy in legal pharmacology.”
Before the pajelança promoted by Bolsonaro on the 7th of September, the opening of an inquiry with merely dissuasive purposes no longer made sense. After the outbreak of undemocratic verbiage that affected the President of the Republic on the National Date, allowing the “scamer” to get away with an inquiry in which the investigated provides evidence of the farce that incriminates him would demoralize the Electoral Court.
A didactic and unoriginal transgressor, Bolsonaro leaves behind a trail of evidence that he apes Donald Trump. Barroso does not ignore what is happening: “Extremism has used hate campaigns, disinformation, half-truths and conspiracy theories, which aim to weaken the foundations of representative democracy. An emblematic manifestation of this dysfunction was the invasion of the Capitol in the United States, after Donald Trump’s defeat in the presidential elections.
The question that floats in the atmosphere is the following: submitted to unquestionable electoral infractions, will the TSE fulfill its duty to apply the penalty of ineligibility or will it pretend to be dead? Dying, taught Nelson Rodrigues, means, in the final analysis, a bit of a vocation.
Before the 7th of September, Bolsonaro saw in the TSE so little militant alive that he sent wreaths of flowers weekly. On holiday, he threw something a lot like a last shovel of lime in the face of the Electoral Court. Barroso’s response, endorsed by colleagues, indicates that the TSE is still breathing. Will take! In the old days, people used to ask: Where are we going to stop? Under Bolsonaro, the question is different: Where will they stop him?